The following are previews with betting tips for Round 17 of the 2017 AFL season.
Friday, July 14
St Kilda v Essendon
7:50PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Saints were under some serious pressure after going down to the Crows in their first game back after the bye, but they’ve since bounced back with four consecutive wins, the most impressive being Saturday night’s demolition of the Tigers. The Saints pressure and ferocious attack on the ball made the Tigers look second rate, which has been a rare occurrence so far in 2017. The win has firmly entrenched the Saints in the top eight and may go down as a season-defining win, but they’ve got a tough little run ahead of them in the next four weeks. Sydney at the SCG next week is followed by Port Adelaide in Adelaide and you would think they probably lose both of those, making a win over the Bombers on Friday night crucial to keep their momentum going.
But the Bombers aren’t an easy side to beat when they’re on song, and they come into this clash full of confidence after smashing the Magpies at the MCG. They’ve got just as much to play for as the Saints do, as the win over Collingwood keeps them well and truly in the finals race. I expect it to be a free-flowing, high scoring game of footy that should go right down to the wire, and while the Bombers are capable of being an extremely dangerous side, I expect the Saints to get the job done again. Perhaps not as emphatically as they did against the Tigers, but if they are able to bring the same intensity, they should be too strong for the Bombers.
Betting tip: St Kilda to win @ $1.75 (Pinnacle)
Saturday, July 15
Geelong v Hawthorn
1:45PM AEST, MCG
It’s almost hard to imagine that the last time these two clubs met the Hawks were languishing on the bottom of the ladder and the Cats handed them a 86-point belting. That was back in round 4, and a lot has changed since then. Not so much for Geelong—they were considered one of the competition’s better teams back then, and that’s definitely still the case. The Hawks, on the other hand, were a basket case. They’re now on the verge of pushing for a finals berth. It’s been a remarkable turnaround, but we shouldn’t be all that surprised given the calibre of their coaching staff and senior players. One of those leaders is Luke Hodge, who has this week announced that 2017 will be his final season before pulling the pin on a brilliant career. If there is to be one last finals hurrah for Hodge, there would be no better place to start than with a win against arch-rival Geelong in his 300th game.
It should be a ripping contest, as both teams are in good form right now. The Cats took care of the lowly Lions by a whopping 85-points on the weekend, and the Hawks drew with premiership favourites GWS in Tasmania—and really, they probably should have won. As impressive as the Hawks have been, and as much as they will want to win for Hodge, you’ve got to think the Cats will still be too good for them.
Betting tip: Geelong (-15.5) @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Port Adelaide v North Melbourne
2:10PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
It only took them until round 16, but Port Adelaide finally managed to beat a team that was in the top eight when the ball was bounced. It’s astounding that it’s only happened once this year yet they’re still in the top four. The win over West Coast was not only hugely important to prove they can beat other contenders, but also due to the logjam of clubs just below them all vying for the double chance.
This week they host the Kangaroos, who went down to the Dockers by 4-points after an easy set shot at goal from Todd Goldstein sailed wide with just 30 seconds remaining. It was the fifth time this year that North have lost by under 10-points, but this one was slightly different. Most of those games you could argue North were the better side and deserved to win but ultimately couldn’t close out the contest. Against Fremantle it was the opposite situation, where the Dockers were the better side all day and the Kangaroos nearly snatched the game from them in the final stages. They’ve now lost five games in a row despite playing some decent footy and are in desperate need of a win. But I’m not sure they’ll get one this week, playing Port at the Adelaide Oval. It’s a tough ask for any club, let alone a struggling side like the Kangaroos. They’ll have a crack as they have all year, but Port will be much too good and should win by eight goals minimum.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $2.12 (TopSport)
Gold Coast v Collingwood
4:35PM AEST, Metricon Stadium
Collingwood’s 37-point loss to the Bombers on Saturday has almost certainly ended Nathan Buckley’s coaching career, while Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade is in a similar boat after the Suns copped a 67-point belting from the Swans on the same day. Buckley is gone, but Rocket still has a chance to keep his job if he can get his troops to show something over the remainder of the year, starting with a much-improved effort against the Pies this week. They look set to welcome back a few key midfielders in Gary Ablett, Pearce Hanley and Aaron Hall, which totally changes the look of their on-ball brigade.
The Pies should have young forward Darcy Moore back in the side which will help straighten them up, but he’s not likely to kick a bag and fix their scoring woes all on his own. No one doubts that the Pies have a strong midfield, but they just can’t turn that advantage from the clearances into scoreboard impact, and it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. Jeremy Howe is also back in the side, as is classy midfielder Daniel Wells—who would’ve been really handy over the past month—so there are a couple of big inclusions for the Pies. But the Suns are a good side when playing at home and with a relatively healthy list to choose from—which they have this week—so I expect they’ll get home against Collingwood and make things go from bad to worse for the Pies.
Betting tip: Gold Coast By 1-39 @ $2.43 (UniBet)
GWS v Sydney
7:25PM AEST, Spotless Stadium
There are a few good games of footy on this weekend, but if you’re only going to watch one, make it this one. The in-form Swans have won their past five matches, but this is set to be their biggest challenge yet. The Giants have been lucky to get away with the draw in both of their past two games, but they’ve still shown flashes of their brilliant best. They have also had the wood over Sydney for quite some time now, so if they can bring their best for close to four quarters you’d probably expect them to win. But the Swans are in some rare form at present and are playing better, more consistent footy than the Giants. It obviously helps that they no longer have the same injury issues the Giants are still grappling with.
The Swans need the win to keep themselves in the eight, and while the Giants aren’t necessarily in desperate need of a win, after two close finishes where they couldn’t quite get over the line they’d love to knock off their crosstown rivals to get things rolling again. Either way, I’m sure the Giants are keen for a result this week—I reckon they’d almost prefer to lose than go through another draw.
Even though the Swans are in such good form I’m going with the Giants to win this one. They match up really well against the Swans and playing at Spotless Stadium I think they’ll just pip the Swans in what should be a ripping game of footy.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.85 (Marathon Bet)
Melbourne v Adelaide
7:40PM AEST, TIO Stadium
The Demons proved their top eight credentials on Sunday afternoon by doing what all top teams must do at times—winning ugly. They were without three of their top-line midfielders, and the Blues put them under the pump for the most of the contest. They looked like they were in trouble at times, but they dug in and held on for a gutsy 8-point victory. It’s not the sort of win Melbourne would have been capable of in the past—often going to water when things got tough—which is why this was such an important game for them to win. Not only are they entrenched in the top eight, they’re actually a sneaky chance of a top four finish if they keep winning. To do that they’ll need some of their injured and suspended players back as they’re not going to beat the best sides in the competition with only half a midfield.
Adelaide are one of those better sides, but the midfield is not their biggest strength. It means the Demons might get away with their depleted midfield for another week, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be good enough to beat the Crows. To do that they still have to match it with them in the other areas of the ground, including subduing their dangerous forward line. It’ll be a tough ask for the Demons considering their outs, and while they did it superbly against the Blues, I expect the Crows might be slightly too strong for them to overcome.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-17.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Sunday, July 16
Richmond v Brisbane
1:10PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Tigers couldn’t help themselves, they just had to put in a typical Richmond performance and let themselves down eventually. It was a disastrous showing, but we’ll call it an off night and see how they bounce back this week. Fortunately they face the Lions in Melbourne, which should be an easy win and an opportunity to regain some of the percentage they lost against the Saints. I don’t think there’s much point in reading too much more into Saturday night, from here it’s all about the next few weeks. This week might not tell us much, but a Sunday afternoon clash against the Giants at the MCG the following week will.
Despite the loss, the Tigers are still in the hunt for a top four position, but they can’t afford too many more poor performances. They need a big win against the Lions, and to then take that confidence into the following week and make a statement against GWS. The Tigers obviously much prefer playing at the MCG, but they’ll have to front up once again at Etihad and make sure they’re better than they were last week. The Lions are a young side capable of playing a strong, attacking game style, but the Tigers should be able to hurt them going the other way. Anything less than an eight goal win would be a disappointing result for Richmond, but I think they’ll do it with ease and set up a massive game for the following week.
Betting tip: Richmond (-41.5) @ $2.12 (Ladbrokes)
Carlton v Western Bulldogs
3:20PM AEST, MCG
The Dogs are officially done. Something is not quite right at the Whitten Oval, and no one seems to know what it is or how to fix it, Luke Beveridge included. He was exasperated after the loss to the Crows, and fair enough—his team is a shadow of its former self. They played a decent first half against the Crows, but didn’t give a yelp after half time, letting the Crows run all over the top of them. The Blues should be a slightly easier task, but they won’t be beating anyone if they perform like they did in the second half on Friday night.
The Blues deserved to beat Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, but lacked that little bit of composure and class to finish it off. Having Patrick Cripps sitting on the sidelines doesn’t help, of course. His absence for the remainder of the year due to a broken leg will hurt them, but it gives another young midfielder a chance to step up.
Bulldogs’ vice-captain and defensive general Easton Wood will miss due to a one week suspension, but they regain skipper Bob Murphy from a hamstring issue to bolster the backline in Wood’s absence.
I think it’ll be another close game and would probably be backing the Blues if Cripps hadn’t hurt himself, but his injury probably tips things in favour of the Dogs. But only just.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.57 (BetFair)
Fremantle v West Coast
4:40PM AEST, Domain Stadium
West Coast continued their topsy-turvy season with a disappointing home loss to Port after an encouraging away win over the Western Bulldogs. They may still do enough to make finals, but it’s clear that they aren’t a genuine premiership threat. They’ve got some genuine stars, but they’re lacking some depth and probably another gun midfielder before they can really push into premiership contention. This week they take on the Dockers in the Derby, and with both clubs still in the mix for a finals berth, it should make for an interesting contest with plenty on the line. The Dockers just hung on against the Kangaroos to snap a five game losing streak, but it would have been the form of superstar Nat Fyfe that would’ve most pleased Fremantle fans. He has back to something resembling his dominant best, so let’s hope he gets a clear run at with injuries for the rest of the year.
One of Fyfe’s midfield partners-in-crime in David Mundy is set to return to the side, while the big inclusion for West Coast is the much-awaited return of key forward Josh Kennedy. He makes a huge difference to this West Coast team, and that alone is enough to make them hard to tip against. Even considering their patchy form without him, you’ve got to say the Eagles are a better side than Freo and should get the job done by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: West Coast (-16.5) @ $1.92 (Marathon Bet)
Best Bets of the Round
Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $2.12 (TopSport)
Adelaide (-17.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
All Bets: -23.7 units
Best Bets: +0.11 units